Augusta healthcare providers prepare for FDA to approve COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15-year-olds


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — For months, adults have lined up to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Children may have their turn soon. The FDA is expected to grant emergency authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 12 to 15-years-old by early next week.

“We truly believe the pediatric population is going to be very unique,” Dr. Joshua Wyche, AU Health’s Assistant Vice President of Strategic Planning and Pharmacy Services, says. “We know parents very much receive their information from pediatricians. It’s really about making sure pediatricians have the latest information and are as confident as possible.”

President Joe Biden says the White House “is ready to move immediately to make about 20,000 pharmacy sites across the country ready to vaccinate those adolescents as soon as the FDA grants it’s okay.”

Healthcare providers are now planning how they will distribute the vaccine. Gold Cross EMS says any of its clinics “will be open to all eligible age groups.” University Hospital has a vaccination clinic scheduled for May 14 at Aiken Tech, but will be phasing out clinics due to “lagging interest.”

“We are working on getting vaccines into our physicians’ offices for distribution, but could also schedule more clinics in the future if we see the demand is there,” Rebecca Sylvester, University Health’s Director of Strategic Marketing & Promotions, says.

AU Health is expected to finalize its vaccination plans in the coming days. Wyche says the process will be simple for children and their parents.

“The process will be very similar to what you would see in your private practice doctor’s office,” Wyche explains. “You would consent for your child to have the vaccine. Ultimately, the nurse would come in to vaccinate your child.”

Wyche tells NewsChannel 6 the FDA’s approval comes at an important time with the U.K. variant “hitting children at a much higher rate and harder than the original variant.”

“The discussion around children ids a completely different discussion today when it comes to COVID-19 than it was six months to a year ago,” he adds.

Experts expect some parents will be hesitant. Those who have seen how devastating COVID-19 can be encourage parents to sign their children up.

“I would like my children to be vaccinated,’ Teresa Haythorn says. “I’m a nurse. I work in the COVID-19 unit. I’ve seen the end results of COVID-19 gone wild. If you have an opportunity to spare any of your family members with that injury in their life, then please let’s all get our shots.”

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